"Whisper of the Heart" (Movie Review)

Sunday, January 18, 2015
Hey, guys!! I'm super sorry for not being around the blogaverse lately... School and life have both been totally crazy!! But I'm back with a nice, long movie review. (I watched the movie here: Whisper of the Heart ) There ARE spoilers at the very bottom of this post, so if you want to see the movie without knowing anything, don't read past the little warning in the middle of the post... I hope you enjoy!!


(Whisper of the Heart)


Summary:

Shizuku is a 14-year-old girl, living in Tokyo with her preoccupied parents and busy college-age sister. She loves fairy-tales, and spends all of her free time devouring a never-ending pile of books. During the summer, what starts out as a simple song-writing date with her best friend, Yuko, quickly turns into a confusing whirlwind of connections between secret crushes, pressure to study for exams, a strange cat with a hidden agenda, an old antique shop, and a mysterious name reoccurring on the library checkout cards... And to top the cake, Shizuku continues to run into a rude boy around town and school, which causes her entire world to turn upside-down. 


What I Liked:

This was such a cute movie!! The animation is gorgeous!! Shizuku was a very relatable character from her love of books, her passion for writing, her insecurities, her longing for adventure, and even her confusion when it comes to making life decisions. The subtle hints & plot twists weaved throughout the movie that help to solve the "mini mysteries" were fun. I just love the "book-lover" feel that pulled through the whole story. (There were loads of "#writerprobs moments" throughout that whole thing too!! Lol!) And also, the theme song for the movie is "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which is one of my favorite songs!!


What I Didn't Like:

I felt like the some of side-stories should have been carried a little farther. Some questions that arise from different events remain unanswered, and it kinda frustrated me. (I'll elaborate in the SPOILER section...) I will say, the story was a little bit corny. (But aren't most Jr. High drama/puppy-love cartoons like that, anyway? There are some 'corny' movies that I cannot stand, but in this case, I really enjoyed it. I don't know how to explain it other than saying it was a "cute" type of corny!!) The only other thing that I would have changed was the ending... I felt like it was a little too rushed & not quite enough was explained. But all that aside, I liked this movie!! 


My Rating:

I would give this movie a 7 out of 10 stars. 
Seriously, I loved this cartoon!! But those little questions I had unanswered left me feeling a wee bit unsatisfied. This movie was relatable, quirky, and adorable. I would definitely watch this again.


Favorite Character:

I felt a connection with Shizuku... She loves fiction, is a huge dreamer, and we both have struggled with wanting to hide from making big decisions.







WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!

You have been warned... I talk about the main scenes in the movie & make comments on how I felt about different aspects of them. Feel free to keep reading, but I highly suggest watching the movie first and coming back to read/geek out with me over it!! :)









(#bookloverprobz)

Shizuku is an avid reader. The entire movie revolves around her reading habits and her love of fairytales. The big mystery starts when she glances at the names on the checkout cards in her library books. Every book she wants to read has the name "Seiji Amasawa" previously checked-out. She starts to feel a crazy connection between herself & the other reader, because of their reading choices. 
She begins to do investigate, so she can find and meet this person who has such amazing tastes in books. 



(#bookfeels)

Her love of these books gives her many ideas about how life should be, and is disappointed when things don't go "by the book." Part of the whole theme is learning to see things for what they are, and drawing a line between fact and fantasy.

(I loved this, because I think all of us wish that things would be like they are in stories... We do wish for the knight in shining armor & the magical meetings that fairytales hold everyday. Having this weaved throughout the movie was very nice & part of the reason I felt like this movie was meant for me!!) 



(Yuko's secret crush...)

One of the side-stories is Yuko's crush on Sugimura, a guy-friend friend from school. When she tells Shizuku about it, she also tells her about a love-letter from another boy in school, but she doesn't know which guy to talk to. Shizuku tries to give Yuko advice, but neither of them really know what to do. After an embarrassing coversation between Sugi & Yuko, Shizuku explains everything to Sugimura in an attempt to help, but it all comes out that he just doesn't like Yuko. To top it off, he intead (*plot-twist alert*) confesses that he likes Shizuku! Shizuku refuses him & is loyal to her friendship with Yuko. 

(Sugimura does not appear but one or two more times, still hurt because of Shizuku's refusal. Yuko appears only a handful of more times, and never discussing Sugimura! This was one of the side-stories I wish they had gone further into. 
Did Yuko & Sugi ever work things out? Did Yuko decide to talk to the guy who sent her the letter instead? Was Shizuku and Sugimura ever able to be friends again? These were some of the questions I was left with & was slightly irratated about.)



(Meeting Someone...)

It all starts in the park, after Yuko and Shizuku work on rewriting the words from "Take Me Home, Country Roads" for their graduation... Shizuku accidentally leaves her library book & song on the bench, and when she goes back to retrieve it, she meets a boy. When she tells him that the book belongs to her, he smirks, says her name, & hands back the book. When she questions him about knowing her name, he sarcastically says to take a wild guess. She suddenly remembers about her name being on the check-out card. As he walks away, she hears him singing the lyrics to her song! She realizes that her paper was shoved between the pages of her book. She calls after him, angry, & he makes fun of how "corny" her lyrics are. She walks away, muttering about "that stupid jerk." Yet as unpleasent as this meeting is, it is not the last...

Every time Shizuku meets this boy, he ends up being sarcastic and rude, making Shizuku angry & embarrassed to be around him. But for some odd reason, they keep meeting, and Shizuku cannot understand why.




(Traveling cat....)


When she get on the train to head to the Library, a strange cat sits beside Shizuku. She wonders where he could be going until he gets off at the same stop as she does. Forgetting her errand, she follows the cat trough an alley-way, up a hill, and through an nice neighborhood, until he disappears into an old antique shop. 





(Antique Shop...)


Once inside this shop, Shizuku looks around and her eye catches a little statue of a cat, wearing a suit. As she looks around, she meets the owner of the store, Mr. Nishi, & he tells her stories about the cat statue, (whose name is "the Barron,") and other merchandise he has in the store. They quickly become good friends & she asks to come visit again. 




(Becoming friends!)

Shizuku & the annoying boy continue to run in to each other, but as time goes on, he becomes nicer. One day, when she is ready to go back to see Mr. Nishi at the antique shop, they see each other again. The boy explains that Mr. Nishi is his grandfather & he takes her inside to see the statue again.
After she has seen it, he shows her into the basement, where he is carving a violin out of wood.


(Music time...)

Shizuku begs to hear him play, and he plays "Take Me Home, Country Roads" on the condition that she will sing... She obeys & sings the new lyrics she wrote with Yuko. In the middle of the song, Mr. Nishi comes downstairs with some of his friends & they play along too! 
As soon as the song is over, Shizuku discovers, through talking with him & Mr. Nishi, that the boy's name is Seiji Amasawa; the same name as the mysterious reader. She is angry at first, because she expected someone different, but quickly comes to terms with it.


(Following dreams...)

Seiji shares that his dream is skip highschool, & to move to Italy to become a master at crafting violins. He talks about the possiblity of going soon, but is not sure it will be possible. Shizuku shares that she has no idea what she wants to do with her life & feels worthless for it. Seiji encourages her to continue writing, & apoilgizes for laughing at her lyrics on their first meeting. 




(A heart-to-heart...)

After class, Seiji wanders to Shizuku's room & loudly announces that he wants to talk to her. All of the kids begin to laugh & tease, so they run to the roof. Seiji proceeds to tell Shizuku that he dream is coming true & that he is leaving for 2 months to train in Italy. Shizuku is happy for him, but somehow feels sad that they won't be able to see one another. 
Seiji tells Shizuku that he has always liked her & the reason she found his name on all of those books was because he was trying to get her attention. He knew if he read all of the same books she would, they would eventually meet. He had always wanted to talk to her, but always stopped himself.

They are interupted by laughter behind them & find that all of Shizuku's classmates followed them & have been eavesdropping. Shizuku runs away, crying, unsure how to feel about all of it...

(This was a good tie-together scene... This is when the final bits of the book-card-mystery are put together & you understand why Seiji's character has changed as time has worn on. I was also glad that there wasn't any ooey-gooey kissing at this point or any point through the movie!! I hate seeing stories with an over abundance of that stuff...)



(#writerlife)

After Seiji leaves, Shizuku goes through a time of feeling sad & lonely. She slowly realizes that she likes Seiji, but she doesn't feel "good enough" to be his girlfriend. Yuko gives her some advice & says that she should do what Seiji said and work on writing. She decides to write a story about the little cat statue from the antique shop, which she entitles: "Whisper of the Heart." And she makes Mr. Nishi promise to read and critique it for her. 

Over the next 2 months, Shizuku writes night & day, skipping meals and forgetting to sleep. Her new lifestyle begins to affect her grades & her family life. Her parents finally confront her about her grades, reminding her that she needs good grades to get in to Highschool. She informs them that she doesn't want to go to highschool, and wants to write full-time. They begrudgingly agree to let her decide what she wants to do, but she can see that they want her to work harder at school.




(Fantasy-land...)

Shizuku pushes herself even harder to finish her book before Seiji's 2 months are over. Her story comes alive before her very eyes & she doesn't want to stop. She forces herself to write, telling herself that she must improve for Seiji... Seiji is following his dream, and she must too!



(Polishing gems...)

The fateful day comes when Shizuku takes her finished manuscript to Mr. Nishi... She cannot help but tremble when he takes it to read. She begs him to read it all that day so she can be sure to hear what he thinks as soon as he is done. She waits at his house all day long. 

At sunset, he comes out of his study to tell Shizuku what he thinks about the book. He tells her that he loves it; that there are many little gems scattered throughout her book, but that it is now time to polish them. She breaks down & cries, heartbroken that her book is not ready. She feels hopeless, and just wishes that she was better at writing. 

Mr. Nishi finally begins to understand why she is so passionate about getting it all perfect, & asks her to eat dinner with him. Over supper, he tells her about Seiji's first violin & about how upset he was when it did not turn out the way he wanted. Mr. Nishi explains that just because something does not come out perfect the first time, does not mean you should give up on your dream...

(I loved this message, because it was a good reminder to never stop trying. "If at first you don't succeed, try-try again..." is really an underlying theme throughout this part of the story.)



(Yes to highschool...)

After Shizuku comes to terms with the fact that writing takes time & manuscripts need polishing, she decides to buckle-down and push hard with her school, still keeping her dream in mind. She works hard & starts to feel better about herself. She decides that highschool is a good thing to work towards & does her best to make it.

(I feel like this fact was important, because when many people get discouraged, they give up entirely. Sometimes we have to take different paths to reach our goals than we originally plan to... And usually when your parents encourage you to do something, it's the best course of action.) 



(Surprise ending!)

Shizuku wakes up early in the morning, only to find Seiji standing outside her window. He calls to her, telling her to come down to talk to him. She rushes down stairs & is thrilled to see him back a day early. He gives her his coat because it is cold out & puts her on the back of his bike, saying he wants to show her something. 

They ride around, and Seiji tells her that his teacher in Italy said he shows promise, but that he must practice some more. He tells Shizuku that he will go to highschool & become a violin craftsman afterwards. He says that he hopes she can come with him. Shizuku tells him that she would never want to be a burden to him, but he says that they could work together as a team.

They mount a hill & Seiji shows Shizuku the beautiful sunrise. He says that this is his secret place to get inspiration. She thanks him for showing her.
Seiji says that his grandfather told him all about her story & how much potential it has... He tells her how proud he is & says that he knows she will be a professional writer someday, when he is a professional violin craftsman. He blushes & asks her if she would marry him when they are grown up. She laughs at him & says yes. He grins & hugs her, screaming, "I love you, Shizuku!!" 

He chuckles, self-conciously, and asks if what he said was "corny." Shizuku giggles and says yes, but that it doesn't matter since he is not a writer...


(I actually liked this ending, even though felt slightly rushed... Of course, the movie is approx. 2-hours long, so I can totally understand why!! I just think I would have been more appreciative of the ending if it had been taken a little slower. I also kept wondering about Yuko & Sugi, about Mr. Nishi, about if Shizuku was able to bring up her grades enough to go to highschool, and about if her song was preformed at their graduation ceremony! None of this was really answered, so I felt somewhat unsatisfied with that bit, but I can see why it all was a little rushed. But on the whole, I thought they did an okay job of ending it, all things considered!)



So, how many of you actually read this far?? Lol!! I hope this makes up for my lack of recent posts... Let me know in the comments what you thought of this movie, if you have watched it, or suggesting other movies I should watch like this!! :)





H.M. Wilson

2 comments :

  1. I love this movie! I'm a big Ghibli fan :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha!! How cool!! I just discovered how much I love their movies... My first one I saw was "Ponyo" & that was several years ago. I just love the anime-style art!! What was your favorite scene in the movie?? :D

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